Plutonium is a man-made element, but minute quantities of it exist on earth. It's probable the earth had much larger quantities of it during its formation as a planet, but most of it decayed due to its half-life. In the same vein (no pun intended) as carbon-14 dating, is it possible to determine how much of it existed by determining if some of the radionuclides on earth are remaining products of its decay chain?

In other words, can we study uranium, lead, thallium, bismuth, etc. samples on earth and determine if they were transmuted from plutonium?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It could be interesting to compare the amount of Pu thought to be present in the Earth at 'birth' and the amount produced during natural reactors such as Oklo (estimated to be about 2 tons of Pu-239). $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Oct 26, 2022 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ So do radionuclides have any signature that can be used to determine their previous decay state? Interestingly, the common Pu-239 isn't the longest lived isotope. $\endgroup$
    – user148298
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 5:37
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    $\begingroup$ I think this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium#Occurrence answers it. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ The country of Gabon should make Oklo a nuclear tourism destination with a centrifuge amusement park ride and concession stands serving glow-in-the-dark Cherenkov drinks and hot yellow cakes. Great way to boost their economy. LOL! $\endgroup$
    – user148298
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 19:34


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